On our first full day in Grenada, we did a whole lot of nothing but enjoy the property, our home for seven nights: Villa Solitaire. After all, if you were staying here, would you want to leave? I thought not.
But around midday, we did finally rouse ourselves from a sun-drunk haze to head into St. George’s, as our gracious host had booked us on the ultimate of Grenada excursions: a boat tour out to the underwater sculpture park!
Images of these soldier-like sculptures poised upright underwater have cropped up on my social media feeds since construction began in 2006, and I had always wanted to dive with them. Only, we couldn’t find a dive boat with availability on the day we needed—I blame those cruise ships who take up all the spots on the tours!—but we found something even better: British expat Howard Clarke who runs Grenada Seafaris Powerboat Adventure, one of the coolest ways I’ve ever ventured out into the sea.
We met our guides at Coconut Beach, and were pleased to find that the six of us—five big kids and a baby—had the boat to ourselves, save Howard and our noble guide, Albert.
We boarded the powerboat and took our seats cowboy-style, as if riding a horse, before Howard sped off into the wake.
Located in the Moliniere Beausejour Marine Protected Area, the sculpture park was created by English artist Jason de Caires Taylor, who is both a sculptor and an avid diver. Molinere Bay was damaged by storm surge from Hurricanes Ivan (2004) and Emily (2005), and according to Seafaris, the sculptures were designed to assist in the regeneration of the area by providing habitat for marine animals to live and by providing new surfaces for corals to grow upon. The park has played an important role in regenerating this area and has given it a new dimension.
Seafaris also played in a part in the evolution of this park by sponsoring a series of 14 sculptures that were based on Amerindian art, and in 2011, the Grenada Board of Tourism commissioned “Christ of the Deep,” which reminded me so much of the iconic Jesus figure perched high above Rio de Janeiro, to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the sinking of the Bianca C, the most popular wreck dive on the island.
I love how committed this island community is to preserve its underwater ecosystem, particularly after reading recently about the extreme reef bleaching epidemic that has arisen as a result of global warming (excuse me, climate change). As a diver, it’s sad to see our reefs dying off at an alarming rate, and I’ll always be in support of projects like Molinere that aim to reverse that in some small way.
Today, more than 65 sculptures stand guard over the marine life of Molinere, located just north of Grand Anse and St. George’s.
SVV, actual merman, had no trouble free-diving 40 feet and skimming the ocean floor as he snapped away with the GoPro.
For me, holding my breath doesn’t come as easy, so I’d run out of steam the second I reached the bottom.
In that respect, it would have been fun to scuba dive with the sculptures simply to have more bottom time.
The water was pretty murky the day we were there, heavy with sediment, so our photos aren’t as crisp as I would have liked. But I think it actually adds to the eeriness of the setting, wouldn’t you?
On the way back to the boat, we snorkeled through the shallower waters and were rewarded with schools of playful silver baitfish creating barriers between us and the nearby rocky coast.
After an hour or so, we all climbed back on the boat, and Howard and Albert took us into the harbor of St. George’s. Given that we ran out of time and never actually made it in to the capital (on land, at least)—how is that possible with seven days in one place?—I’m so glad we got this brief tour of the city from the water.
Tours of the West Coast and sculpture park with Seafaris run $75 an adult, with kids 50 percent of that price, and last around three hours (Augustine being a baby got to ride for free). Albert also tells of Grenada’s volcanic origins and shows passengers the marine life they may encounter, which include turtles and dolphins. It’s worth every penny, too—a historical tour of the downtown, in addition to a snorkeling excursion and a high-adrenaline speed race on the powerboat, all rolled into one—and I won’t hesitate to head back out to sea with Howard when next we return to Grenada.
As we motored away from St. George’s, we could see showers in the distance, and the most perfect rainbow formed above the island.
After we got back to land, we camped out at Coconut Beach Restaurant for the remainder of the afternoon, sipping down Caribs and noshing on fruits from the sea.
I think we can all agree it was the best day ever, and we were already smitten with Grenada, just 24 hours into our visit.
I haven’t been to Grenada yet and this post is making me want to book a trip asap! Stunning underwater scenes. I’ve only tried diving once and hope to do it again soon. Thanks for sharing!
You’d LOVE it. So many interesting places and faces to photograph.
I’m super impressed with Scott’s free diving abilities. I think I need to get Dive certified and we both need to work on our free diving techniques. Plan?!
I’ve been telling you that for years! Do your PADI and then you and I can take the free-diving specialty.
Amazing pictures! I haven’t really been to the Caribbean at all, except in Central America, but this looks like it would be an awesome stop!
I’d put Grenada at the top of your list! Then again, it might spoil the rest of the Caribbean for you, as it’s so much more authentic and verdant than many of the more well known islands.
I love that I can do this without scuba diving! I’ve been working on my “free dive” skills (cause I have none!) so this will be perfect for me! Now I have to get better at my underwater photography! My boys really have to get older so they can help me with this stuff!
That’s awesome! You don’t even have to free dive if you don’t want; many are 25-30 feet down so you can see them from the surface. Though it definitely helps if you can hold your breath, at least for photo purposes 😉
This looks like so much fun! It looks like an amazing day. I can see why you would want to dive instead of snorkel, it definitely looks like something I would want to spend a lot of time looking at as well!
Doesn’t it, though, Meghan? So much to see, and with 65 sculptures I’d say we only made it to half!
We did a tour with Grenada Seafaris as well – and it was fantastic! Our weather (and photos) were about as murky as yours, which we understand is fairly normal for the area. Albert was absolutely amazing – my husband is not a strong swimmer, so after he took the rest of us on the usual tour, he threw a life ring in the water and gave him a personalized tour, even diving down to bring up a sea urchin. Absolutely loved their exceptional tour!
Aren’t Howard and Albert the best? We were lucky our gracious hostess Susan knew of them and booked us on their boat as we did zero research before this trip (a rarity!). I’m so glad you loved it as much as we did =)
You’re right, the murky photos add some mystery. It also make the sight a bit creepier, but maybe that’s part of the charm. I’ve heard of these sculptures in Grenada and I had already added it to place I would love to go diving!
It definitely looks like something bad could have happened down there! Like a shipwreck or something.
Jade’s daughter is so stinking cute! This place is pretty cool and I love the fact that you can (at least try to) access it by snorkeling since I don’t scuba dive.
Isn’t she? You know I don’t want kids of my own, but luckily Jade is kind enough to share Augustine with me so I can be the fun aunt to yet another adorable tot! She’s got such a great personality, too, and is an awesome traveler.
That first underwater photo is amazing! So much detail for a GoPro — though you are, indeed, the GoPro pro 😉
We also had the G7X Mark II with us, so I’m not sure what took which! I just assume Scott, with his gills, got most of the shots with the GoPro as my staying power is AWFUL 😉
He wanted me to edit the photos more, but honestly it was super murky down there and this is as true to form as you’d see, only maybe a smidge greener. What can you do?
P.S. I don’t think GoPros are awesome cameras tbh. Our Hero 3 kept completely quitting on us both times we took it out to dive and wouldn’t turn on (and it was fully charged) =/ I really only like it for skiing/snowboarding as we can mount it on Scott’s board and get some great footage as we descend.
Amazing clicks, I love to read travel blogs and this underwater sculpture park is always on top of my list.Seriously this is something one should try once.
Wow, I’m almost smitten by just reading your post. 😉 We’ve seen a lot of pictures of this underwater sculpture park and it has definitely made it onto our scuba diving bucket list. We didn’t know anything else about the park though, so really enjoyed reading about it and love that it provides extra surfaces for coral to grow on. Hadn’t thought about it that way! Pinned for future reference, when we make it to Grenada!
Oh that makes me happy to hear, Birthe! It’s such a magical place, I really do hope you make good on that promise someday 😉
Kristin, Thank you so much for the awesome review – it was a pleasure having you all on board. I have passed the link onto Albert and Howard 🙂 We also have a GoPro but prefer our underwater Olympus which we rent out as colour correction is amazing on it (as can be seen on all our facebook pics. Thanks again and we hope to welcome you all on board again soon. xx
Albert and Howard were amazing guides. We had such a blast with them and can’t wait to come back!
Not a GoPro fan to be honest. Some of these were taken with our Canon GX7 Mark II. Definitely superior to any of the Heros!
That last closeup statue shot is a little too realistic…or maybe I watch too much NCIS 😉
I’ve never tried free-diving, I’m such a chicken when it comes to water, I’m amazed that I even snorkel!
I’m really bad at free-diving, as well! Not scared, just cannot hold my breath for the life of me. =/
Kristin, what an awesome trip! I’m jealous. This underwater sculpture park is definitely worth a (dive) trip. Great photos. Thanks for sharing!
It was truly an amazing vacation!
Those are amazing photos I love them – Well done and the post is well written
Well done and Thanks for sharing!
SO COOL! I am amazed by this!
Right? On a tiny island like Grenada at that!
I may or may not have clicked on your article specifically because it has “mermaid” in the title hahaha! I love this, and your pictures are gorgeous! I’m adding this to my bucket list! (Though, like you, I’m not sure if I’ll run out of air by the time I reach the bottom lol. And was there a lot of pressure on your head that far down as well? I think I’d be worried about that more than the air lol — 40 feet seems pretty deep. I remember feeling like my head was gonna explode once when I was a kid and dove to the bottom of a 20 ft deep swimming pool. But that was a long time ago). Love, love, love this though! So thanks! <3
I didn’t feel a lot of pressure! I just can’t hold my breath that long 😉 You just have to learn to equalize by cinching your nose and blowing out to pop your ears.
Amazing diving photos, this underwater sculpture park seems quite spectacular! I have tried several nautical sports but never free diving. I am working for an events company in London where we list several trips and travel related events, and reading them inspires me to seek for new activities to try on my vacation. Grenada is definitely on my travel bucket list.
Thank you, Juliette! Lucky for you, London has a direct flight to Grenada 😉
This is called snorkeling the right way. What a park or should we called it an underwater park. I never thought this could have existed and it is available to visit. Some of the sculptures look creepy, at least it is visited in groups. Good for me.
Super creepy, and I love it!
I LOVE Grenada! Sculpture Park is so awesome whether you snorkel or dive it. We actually got our SCUBA certification in Grenada, so had some pretty great dive spots for our testing. Even with the water conditions, your photos look great. What do you use for an underwater camera?
Oh, that’s so fun! I use the Canon G7x Mark II:
And this is the housing we chose (there are several options but this one had better reviews):
Did you see any dolphins while there? We really lucked out!
Thanks for the information! I’ll have to check out that camera, my favorite underwater camera sprung a leak a couple years ago and my cheaper replacement(s) are OK, but I’d like to finally upgrade.
I can’t believe all that you saw on your other dive & the DOLPHINS!?! How amazing!! I actually lived in Grenada for a couple years, and though I didn’t get out as much as I would have liked to, I never saw dolphins up close like that there! Wow, am I missing Grenada now 🙂
A friend of mine went to vet school there, dove regularly and also said she never saw dolphins, so I think we really lucked out as that was our only morning diving in eight days on Grenada! Lucky you; it really is my favorite of the Caribbean islands.
This is just soo cool. I have seen this place before on photos, but I always thought it was not real. I am so amazed you can actually dive there yourself. Need to add it to my bucket list.
Legit one of the coolest underwater sites I’ve ever seen!
Those statues are amazing! I’d love to see them one day. Probably need some (OK a lot) of freediving practice first though – I can barely swim at the moment haha
WOW, underwater sculptures look amazing. Never heard about it before. Thanks for this info
I’ve never seen such complete post about Grenada’s culture, thanks a lot for sharing this amazing experience
We had visited Grenada Seafaris as well – and it was spectacular! Sculpture Park is so awesome whether you do snorkeling or diving.I must say your photography skills are top-notch
That’s snorkeling done right. I never imagined this could exist, and now I can visit it. The sculptures look creepy, but it’s only visited in groups, so that’s good.
That is insanely cool. I’ve seen pictures of this place before, but I thought they were just photos. I’m amazed you can dive there yourself. I need to add it to my bucket list.
Wow, what a beautiful and interesting place, I will add it to my list of places to visit with my family! Thank you very much for your article.